Monday, September 7, 2009

Capitol Reef National Monument, Utah

Capitol Reef National Park is a United States National Park, in south-central Utah. It is 100 miles (160 km) long but fairly narrow. The park, established in 1971, preserves 378 mi² (979 km²) and is open all year, although May through September are the most popular months.
Called "Wayne Wonderland" in the 1920s by localboosters Ephraim P. Pectol and Joseph S. Hickman, Capitol Reef National Park protects colorful canyons, ridges, buttes, and monoliths. About 75 miles (120 km) of the long up-thrust called the Waterpocket Fold, extending like a rugged spine from Thousand Lake Mountain southward to Lake Powell, is preserved within the park boundary. Capitol Reef is the name of an especially rugged and spectacular part of theWaterpocket Fold near the Fremont River. The area was named for a line of white domes and cliffs of Navajo Sandstone, each of which looks somewhat like the United States Capitol building, that run from theFremont River to Pleasant Creek on the Waterpocket Fold. The local word reef referred to any rocky barrier to travel.
Only a few decades ago, Capitol Reef and the Waterpocket Fold country comprised one of the most remote corners of the lower 48 U.S. states. Easy road access came only with the construction of a paved State Route 24 through the Fremont River Canyon in 1962.
The town nearest Capitol Reef is Torrey, Utah, which lies eight miles (13 km) west of the visitor's center on Highway 24. Torrey is very small, but has several motels and restaurants. The park itself has a large campground, but it often fills by early afternoon during busy summer weekends. The Burr Trail Scenic Backway provides access from the west through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the town of Boulder. Overnight camping within the park requires a permit from the rangers at the visitor's center. Activities in the park include hiking, horseback riding, and a driving tour. Mountain biking is prohibited in the park, but many trails just outside the park exist.

Bryce Canyon, Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park (pronounced /ˈbraɪs/) is a national park located in southwesternUtah in the United States. Contained within the park is Bryce Canyon. Despite its name, this is not actually a canyon, but rather a giant natural amphitheater created by erosion along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Bryce is distinctive due to its geological structures, called hoodoos, formed from wind, water, and ice erosion of the river and lakebed sedimentary rocks. The red, orange and white colors of the rocks provide spectacular views to visitors. Bryce is at a much higher elevation than nearby Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon. The rim at Bryce varies from 8,000 to 9,000 feet (2,400 to 2,700 m), whereas the south rim of the Grand Canyon sits at 7,000 feet (2,100 m) above sea level.
The Bryce area was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1850s and was named after Ebenezer Bryce, who homesteaded in the area in 1874. The area around Bryce Canyon became a U.S. National Monument in 1923 and was designated as a national park the next year. The park covers 56 square miles (145 km2) and receives relatively few visitors compared to Zion Canyon and the Grand Canyon, largely due to its remote location. The town of Kanab, Utah, is situated at a central point between these three parks.
Most park visitors sightsee using the scenic drive, which provides access to 13 viewpoints over the amphitheaters. Bryce Canyon has eight marked and maintained hiking trails that can be hiked in less than a day (round trip time, trailhead): Mossy Cave (one hour, State Route 12 northwest of Tropic), Rim Trail (5–6 hours, anywhere on rim), Bristlecone Loop (one hour, Rainbow Point), and Queens Garden (1–2 hours, Sunrise Point) are easy to moderate hikes. Navajo Loop (1–2 hours, Sunset Point) and Tower Bridge (2–3 hours, north of Sunrise Point) are moderate hikes. Fairyland Loop (4–5 hours, Fairyland Point) and Peekaboo Loop (3–4 hours, Bryce Point) are strenuous hikes. Several of these trails intersect, allowing hikers to combine routes for more challenging hikes.
The park also has two trails designated for overnight hiking: the 9-mile (14 km) Riggs Loop Trail and the 23-mile (37 km) Under the Rim Trail. Both require a backcountry camping permit. In total there are 50 miles (80 km) of trails in the park.
More than 10 miles (16 km) of marked but ungroomed skiing trails are available off of Fairyland, Paria, and Rim trails in the park. Twenty miles (32 km) of connecting groomed ski trails are in nearby Dixie National Forest and Ruby's Inn.
The air in the area is so clear that on most days from Yovimpa and Rainbow points, Navajo Mountain and the Kaibab Plateau can be seen 90 miles (140 km) away in Arizona. On extremely clear days, the Black Mesas of eastern Arizona and western New Mexico can be seen some 160 miles (260 km) away.
The park also has a 7.4 magnitude night sky, making it the one of the darkest in North America.
Stargazers can therefore see 7,500 stars with the naked eye, while in most places fewer than 2,000 can be seen due to light pollution(in many large cities only a few dozen can be seen). Park rangers host public stargazing events and evening programs on astronomy, nocturnal animals, and night sky protection. The Bryce Canyon Astronomy Festival, typically held in June, attracts thousands of visitors. In honor of this astronomy festival, Asteroid 49272 was named after the national park.
There are two campgrounds in the park, North Campground and Sunset Campground. Loop A in North Campground is open year-round. Additional loops and Sunset Campground are open from late spring to early autumn. The 114-room Bryce Canyon Lodge is another way to overnight in the park.
A favorite activity of most visitors is landscape photography. With Bryce Canyon's high altitude and clean air, the sunrise and sunset photographs can be spectacular.

Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park is a national park located in the Southwestern United States, nearSpringdale, Utah. A prominent feature of the 229-square-mile (593 km2) park is Zion Canyon, 15 miles (24 km) long and up to half a mile (800 m) deep, cut through the reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone by the North Fork of the Virgin River.
The park is located in southwestern Utah in Washington, Iron, and Kane counties. Geomorphically, it is located on the Markagunt and Kolob plateaus, at the intersection of three North American geographic provinces: the Colorado Plateaus, the Great Basin, and theMojave Desert. The northern part of the park is known as the Kolob Canyons section and is accessible from Interstate 15, exit 40.
The road into Zion Canyon is 6 miles (9.7 km) long, ending at the Temple of Sinawava ("Sinawava" refers to the Coyote God of the Paiute Indians). At the Temple, the canyon narrows and a foot-trail continues to the mouth of the Zion Narrows, a gorge with walls as narrow as 20 to 30 feet (6–9 m) wide and up to 2,000 feet (610 m) tall. The Zion Canyon road is served by a free shuttle bus from early April to late October and by private vehicles the other months of the year. Other roads in Zion are open to private vehicles year-round.
The east side of the park is served by the Zion–Mount Carmel Highway, which passes through the Zion–Mount Carmel Tunnel and ends at Mount Carmel Junction. On the east side of the park notable park features include Checkerboard Mesa (photo) and the East Temple.
n Canyon Scenic Drive provides access to Zion Canyon. Traffic congestion in the narrow canyon was recognized as a major problem in the 1990s and a public transportation system using propane-powered shuttle buses was instituted in the year 2000. From April through October, the scenic drive in Zion Canyon is closed to private vehicles and visitors ride the shuttle buses.
On April 12, 1995, heavy rains triggered a landslide that blocked the Virgin River in Zion Canyon. Over a period of two hours, the river carved away part of the only exit road from the canyon, trapping 450 guests and employees in the Zion Lodge. A one-lane temporary road was constructed within 24 hours to allow evacuation of the Lodge. A more stable—albeit temporary—road was completed on May 25, 1995 to allow summer visitors to access the park. This road was replaced with a permanent road during the first half of 1996.
The Zion–Mount Carmel Highway can be traveled year-round. Access for over-sized vehicles requires a special permit, and is limited to daytime hours, as traffic through the tunnel must be one way to accommodate large vehicles. The 5-mile (8.0 km)-long Kolob Canyons Road was built to provide access to the Kolob Canyons section of the park. This road often closes in the winter.
In March 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, which designated and further protected 124,406 acres (503.5 km2) of park land as the Zion Wilderness.
Driving through the east side of Zion to U.S. Route 89 allows access to Bryce Canyon National Park in the north or to the north rim of the Grand Canyon in the south. Due to the narrowness of the Zion–Mount Carmel Tunnel, RVs and buses must obtain a special pass and can only drive through the tunnel during limited hours.
The more primitive sections of Zion include the Kolob Terrace and the Kolob Canyons. The Grotto in Zion Canyon, the Visitor Center and the viewpoint at the end of Kolob Canyons Road have the only designated picnic sites.
Seven popular trails with round-trip times of half an hour (Weeping Rock) to 4 hours (Angels Landing) are found in Zion Canyon. Two popular trails, Taylor Creek (4 hours round trip) and Kolob Arch (8 hours round trip), are in the Kolob Canyons section of the park, near Cedar City.
Hiking up into The Narrows from the Temple of Sinawava is popular in summer. Orderville Canyon, a narrower slot canyon, is also popular. Backpacking down The Narrows from the top takes 12 hours. Other often-used backcountry trails include the West Rim and LaVerkin Creek.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Defenestration...San Francisco, CA


DEFENESTRATION
1997-present

(Site-specific installation on the corner of 6th and Howard St. in San Francisco)

This multi-disciplinary sculptural mural involves seemingly animated furniture; tables, chairs, lamps, grandfather clocks, a refrigerator, and couches, their bodies bent like centipedes, fastened to the walls and window-sills, their insect-like legs seeming to grasp the surfaces. Against society's expectations, these everyday objects flood out of windows like escapees, out onto available ledges, up and down the walls, onto the fire escapes and off the roof. "DEFENESTRATION" was created with the help of over 100 volunteers.
The concept of "DEFENESTRATION", a word literally meaning "to throw out of a window," is embodied by the both the site and staging of this installation. Located at the corner of Sixth and Howard Streets in San Francisco in an abandoned four-story tenement building, the site is part of a neighborhood that historically has faced economic challenge and has often endured the stigma of skid row status. Reflecting the harsh experience of many members of the community, the furniture is also of the streets, cast-off and unappreciated. The simple, unpretentious beauty and humanity of these downtrodden objects is reawakened through the action of the piece. The act of "throwing out" becomes an uplifting gesture of release, inviting reflection on the spirit of the people we live with, the objects we encounter, and the places in which we live.

Giant Fishnet Stocking Legs... San Francisco, CA

Located on the second floor of a Victorian building on San Francisco’s famous Haight Street, are a pair of giant legs that hang out over the street and passersby below. Anyone interested in seeing the famous corner of Haight & Ashbury Streets of 1960s Summer of Love fame, can’t miss the legs. This is another of San Francisco’s unique unexplained sites in a neighborhood of many strange happenings.

Most Crookedest St... San Francisco, CA


Lombard Street is best known for the one-way section on Russian Hill between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets, in which the roadway has eight sharp turns (or switchbacks) that have earned the street the distinction of being "the crookedest [most winding] street in world." The switchbacks design, first suggested by property owner Carl Henry[citation needed] and instituted in 1922, was born out of necessity in order to reduce the hill's natural 27% grade,[citation needed] which was too steep for most vehicles to climb and a serious hazard to pedestrians used to a more reasonable sixteen-degree incline. The crooked section of the street, which is about 1/4 mile (400 m) long, is reserved for one-way traffic traveling east (downhill) and is paved with red bricks. The speed limit here is a mere 5 mph (8 km/h).
In the 1950s the street was gardened by a resident, one of the Bercut brothers, frenchmen who owned the Bercut meat market.
In 1999, a Crooked Street Task Force was created to try to solve traffic problems in the neighborhoods around the winding section of Lombard Street. In 2001, the Task Force decided that it would not be legal to permanently close the block to vehicular traffic. Instead, the Task Force decided to institute a summer parking ban in the area, to bar eastbound traffic on major holidays, and to increase fines for parking in the area. The Task Force also proposed the idea of using minibuses to ferry sightseers to the famous block, although residents debated the efficiency of such a solution, since one of the attractions of touring the area is driving along the twisting section of the street.
The Powell-Hyde cable car line stops at the top of this block.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

CNN- Five 'world's largest' roadside attractions


Five 'world's largest' roadside attractions
(CNN) -- The fiberglass head weighed 600 pounds and resembled Clarabell the Clown from the 1950s "Howdy Doody Show." Bill Ziegler, owner of the Wild Bill's nostalgia store, stumbled across it on an artist's Web site and wondered if it would work for a project he had in mind.
Ziegler recruited the artist to help him attach the giant head to his 33-foot farm silo. By October 2008, the pair had built the world's largest jack-in-the-box.
The jack-in-the-box extends 50 feet in the air, moving up and down approximately once a minute. "They love it," Ziegler said of the tourists who come to his store. He's had visitors from as far away as England -- one couple who saw the story of the jack-in-the-box in a British newspaper decided to stop by.
All across the country, roadside attractions like this one bring surprise and delight to travelers who just have to get a closer look.
"In many parts of the country, you can plan an entire road trip where you visit nothing but 'world's largest' attractions," said Doug Kirby, the publisher of RoadsideAmerica.com.
Kirby's Web site pays homage to odd attractions -- from Ziegler's jack-in-the-box in Middletown, Connecticut, to the world's largest ketchup bottle in Collinsville, Illinois, to the world's largest sundial in Carefree, Arizona.
"Travelers enjoy the noncorporate, somewhat ragged nature of these eclectic attractions," Kirby said. "They're often free, and you can take a great 'wish you were here' photo." See photos of some "world's largest" attractions »
Kirby picked five world's largest attractions from his Web site. In addition to Ziegler's jack-in-the-box, here are his top recommendations for adventurous road trippers:

Ball of Twine-
Visitors do more than snap a picture at the world's largest ball of twine in Cawker City, Kansas. Linda Clover, self-described keeper of the ball, gives tourists twine to add it to the attraction.
"People like to be a part of it," Clover said. "It shows that with lots of patience and a lot of people helping out, you can end up with something very big."
Clover ended up in charge of the ball in a roundabout way. Farmer Frank Stoeber started the ball of twine in 1953. When he died, his cousin took over. And when his cousin died, Clover stepped up.
"I know that people like to come and see it. And someone had to take care of it," she said. "My husband used to say that people asked me to do something and I couldn't say no."
Clover keeps twine with her in case an interested tourist gives her a call. The ball measures more than 40 feet across. It contains 7.9 million feet of twine and weighs approximately 19,000 pounds. And every year in August, Cawker City hosts a twine-a-thon event to hold on to the world's largest ball of twine record.

Salem Sue- (Main Photo)
Salem Sue, dubbed the world's largest cow, is in Salem, North Dakota. She measures 38 feet tall, 50 feet long and is made up of 12,000 pounds of fiberglass.
Scott Schauer, producer of The Real North Dakota project, features Salem Sue on his Web site, which is dedicated to showing tourists the best of North Dakota. As a kid, Schauer used to drive by the cow with his family. He thinks many people pass similar road trip traditions on to their kids, hence their appeal.
"I remember being mesmerized by their monstrous size. No matter how many times I saw them, I always looked forward to seeing them again and again," Schauer said. "As an adult, I still look forward to seeing them. I guess some things don't change with time."

Horseshoe Crab-
The world's largest horseshoe crab resides in a parking lot at the Freedom Worship Baptist Church in Blanchester, Ohio. Last year, the church's pastor, Jim Rankin, hired Evel Knievel's former bodyguard to jump over the crab on his motorcycle. The publicity stunt attracted nearly 8,000 visitors to the church.
The crab is 68 feet long from its head to its long, spiky tail. "It can have up to 65 people inside," Rankin said.

Giant Peanut-
In the 1970s, Ashburn, Georgia, built a monument to the state's No. 1 cash crop.
Standing atop a brick tower along Interstate 75, the world's largest peanut can be seen for miles. The peanut is 33 feet tall with a 10-foot circumference. The peanut was featured on a Go-Gurt portable yogurt packet as a trivia question, said Shelley Zorn, Ashburn's chamber of commerce president. It also showed up on a Food Network show. "Hilarious, isn't it?" Zorn said of the public's love affair with the peanut. "I can meet people on a cruise ... and I ask them if they've seen it. Nine out of 10 people have seen that peanut, no matter where they're from."
A legacy
Recognition is the main reason people build the world's largest attractions, Kirby said. His site rates places higher if they surprise his staff or make them laugh. iReport.com: See the "world's largest rocking chair"
"Towns build giant statues to promote themselves and take pride in local heroes, historic figures or industries," Kirby said. "Businesses commission creation of giants so they stand out from their competition. For individuals, a 'world's largest' something may be a hobby gone out of control. ... Creators fret about their legacy. This 'world's largest' may be how the world remembers them."
That is, until someone builds a bigger one.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/TRAVEL/getaways/04/30/five.worlds.largest.attractions/index.html?iref=t2test_travelthur#cnnSTCText

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Big Frying Pan... Long Beach, WA


The "World's Largest Frying Pan" in Long Beach, Washington is a remnant of the town's Clam Festival. It was forged in 1941 by command of the Long Beach C of C. It is 9 ft., 6 in. in diameter, and has since been surpassed by other towns with more ambitious plans and pans.

No longer operational, Long Beach's frying pan serves as a nice photo backdrop for families who couldn't get a decent picture in front of the Alligator Man across the street at Marsh's Free Museum.

Pacific Avenue, Long Beach, WA

RichArt Yard Art...Centralia, WA


RichArt, aka Richard Tracy, will give you exactly five minutes of his time for free. Ask him anything, take a whirlwind tour, snap a photo. But when your five minutes are up, RichArt is done with you -- he has work to do.
Of course, if you endow him with a $5 donation, he’ll give you another 55 minutes -- the extended tour, even a little time to create your own art in his workshop. We’ve managed to squander our free five with pleasantries and camera equipment wrangling, so we cough up the five bucks (Rich sez if we mail him a nice photo or newsclipping, he’ll send a $5 rebate).
The number "5," not usually in the Top Five of numbers with mystical significance, is the unifying digit in all of RichArt’s calculations.
The outsider artist -- in the sense that most of his work is at the mercy of the elements -- turns out to be an affable though high speed tour guide, yapping with that manic Dennis Hopper Apocalypse Now velocity, pulling us along from sculpture to sculpture.
"This is rebar I got from the college. They had all this leftover rebar and I asked if I could buy some of it. When I told ‘em I wanted the bent pieces, they let me just take it." He shows us how the metal rebar bush is tethered to a real hedge -- "It's gonna pull that hedge right out of the ground."
The Art Yard wraps around Tracy's home like a narrow corridor starship, but open to the sky. Embossed schematics in pre-form styrofoam are glued to the walls. It's that blocky white stuff used to pack electronics and cameras.
Rich, now in his 70s, has been building his Yard Art for over 20 years -- since the early 1980s. He taught for 10 years in public schools. He also spent 30 years as a janitor for a Yard Birds home improvement store before the chain went bankrupt.
Rich has a compositional eye that is always on the move. He discerns patterns of form in the junk he’s glued together, and finds different ideas evoked depending on the light. "Light is everything," Rich says.
One sculpture, an unevenly tiered styrofoam high rise, is best viewed only in moonlight, Rich advises. It glows. "When you see it in moonlight, you go down on your knees and your spirit says 'wow, that's good.'" Our 55 minutes will expire long before the moon rises...
Among all the styrofoam and metal abstractions is a large mutant cartoon bird sculpture -- a Yard Bird! “Yea, that’s a Yard Bird. There were 20 of ‘em the company owned. They'd disappear and end up on the courthouse lawn or in a school yard. Someone would call the store 'Hey Yard Birds. Come get your Yard Bird.' We were all over bringing them back.”
The sides of the house itself are curiously devoid of his signature styrofoam. We mention how one of our readers took us to task when another tipster called it the Styrofoam House. "Oh no, it WAS a styrofoam house, until my wife came out and knocked it all off with a broom." His creativity isn't entirely unfettered.
His covered workshop is where visitors can try their own hand at creating art from foam, beads, and assorted scraps. Rich shows us a piece left behind by a 5-year old girl (it wouldn't fit in the family's car). He's amazed at how good it is. The girl was in tears, partly because Rich invokes a "No Talk" policy during creation. The girl and he communicated in sign language and scribblings on a slate.
Rich shows us his inner sanctum -- a basement workshop entered via steps leading under the house. He has a variety of art projects underway, some he's happy with and some not. "The magic has to work."
A handful of visitors stop by each day -- but they are quality visitors, Rich points out. "Earlier today, a man was here, in tears." "He said he really needed this... that it was like... and I said stop! Don’t tell me! Just keep crying." What is it about Rich and his Art that makes people cry? "Another couple came by, I liked the wife. The husband, he had a camera, and was all over the place, while the wife just stood here and wouldn’t come in, like she wouldn’t have anything to do with it. But she was the one I liked."
Still dry-eyed, we realize our time with the Art Yard Man is almost up. A final revelation comes before we are dispatched: Rich says his Will stipulates that within five days of his death, a friend with a backhoe will come over and completely eradicate the Art Yard -- within a five hour period.

203 M Street, Centralia, WA

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Extraterrestrial Hwy... SR 375 Rachel, Nevada


Length: 98.0 mi / 157.7 km
Time to Allow: An out and back trip can be done in one day, but if you take the entire loop, plan on spending from 2-6 days.

The Extraterrestrial Highway may be a long stretch of 98 miles with only the small town of Rachel along its expanse, but because of its proximity to the famed "Area 51", fans claim it is one of the most "visited" areas in the country. Officially designated in 1996 for the many UFO sightings along the lonely road, the byway now sports a sign posting its speed limit as "Warp 7" and another sign warning of alien encounters for the next 51 miles.

Due to the gradual descent into the valley, the city of Rachel can be seen long before visitors reach it. Once inside the town, take a break from driving and visit the Little A'Le'Inn, a small restaurant that has gotten into the spirit of things. Large painted words on the side of the building scream "Earthlings Welcome" and the restaurant offers a lot of alien merchandise. Tourists and locals claim the food served, including the Alien burger, is "out of this world."

The byway ends at Warm Springs, the intersection of Highway 375 and US 6. Many old mines and ghost towns are scattered along the length of the byway for visiting travelers. Unfortunately, Area 51 is restricted to public access (in fact doesn't even officially exist), but be prepared; while driving down the highway, visitors and locals alike have often seen strange lights glowing in the night sky . . . perhaps an unidentified flying object?

State Route 375 begins at a "Y" junction with State Route 318 at Crystal Springs, a former town site in the northern end of the Pahranagat Valley in the center of Lincoln County. The site, which is little more than the junction and a few trees, functions as a rest area. From there, the highway curves southwest to pass between the Pahrangat and Golden Gate Ranges to ascend 5,592-foot (1,704 m) Hancock Summit.
Descending the summit, SR 375 comes in close proximity to the border of the Nellis Air Force Range. As the highway heads northwest between mileposts 29 and 30, it meets Mail Box Road. The dirt access road, marked by a single mailbox just off the highway, leads to the lands surrounding Area 51. The mail box is commonly used as a meeting place for UFO seekers, and two to three UFO sightings per week are reported to occur in the area.[4] The road continues heading northwest from here, climbing in elevation again to reach the top of Coyote Summit at 5,591 feet (1,704 m).


The Little A'Le'Inn along the Extraterrestrial Highway in Rachel
West of the summit, the Extraterrestrial Highway descends into the Sand Spring Valley and the community of Rachel becomes visible. The small town of about 100 residents is little more than homes and a few businesses. The Little A'Le'Inn (pronounced "alien") is the focal point of the town, providing a modest motel, an alien-themed restaurant/bar, and extraterrestrial souvenirs The Area 51 Research Center, a civilian-run center documenting all types of paranormal activity in the area, was also located in the town.
Leaving Rachel, SR 375 continues northwest to enter Nye County. The route climbs out of Sand Spring Valley and heads over the 5,935-foot (1,809 m) Queen City Summit, the highest point on the highway. After passing the summit, the route descends into the southern end of Railroad Valley, curving nearly due north for several miles as it follows the base of Reveille Range. As the mountains subside, the road turns westward again to head to its northern terminus at the junction of US 6 at Warm Springs.
History
Due to its proximity to Groom Lake and Area 51, State Route 375 and the town of Rachel had become nationally recognized as a place for frequent UFO sightings. In an effort to capitalize on the purported paranormal activity, the Nevada Commission on Tourism sought to rename the road. It was hoped that the renaming "would draw travelers to the austere and remote reaches of south-central Nevada, where old atomic bomb test sites, secret Defense Department airstrips and huge, sequestered tracts of military land create a marketable mystique. The Extraterrestrial Highway was officially dedicated by Governor Bob Miller at a ceremony held in Rachel on April 18, 1996. The ceremony included some amusing space references, and the unveiling of special "Extraterrestrial Highway 375" and "Speed Limit Warp 7" signs for the highway. To promote the highway after its renaming, the tourism commission created "ET Experience", traveler's kits with info about the highway and natural attractions in central Nevada. By submitting an account of their experiences and visiting businesses in Rachel and central Nevada, visitors received exclusive Extraterrestrial Highway memorabilia. (It is unknown whether the kits are still available.)
News of the highway's renaming reached producers at Twentieth Century Fox. They seized the opportunity to promote the release of their upcoming movie Independence Day, whose plot involves aliens and the secret facility at Area 51. Movie executives and actors Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, and Brent Spiner were all on hand during the dedication ceremony, joining state dignitaries in placing items in a time capsule commemorating the event.

Stanley Hotel... Estes Park, Colorado


If you are a Stephen King fan, request room 217. It was in this room that King, inspired by the Stanley Hotel, wrote half of "The Shining."
The ghosts in the Stanley Hotel aren't evil as in the book. Room 418 seems to have the most ghostly activity reported. In fact, the entire fourth floor of the Stanley Hotel (formerly the servants quarters) is quite active. Often, the sound of children playing in the halls of the Stanley can be heard, even when no children are present.
The Stanley Hotel's original owners, F.O. and Flora Stanley, are said to haunt the hotel as well. Mr Stanley plays the piano in the music room, and frequents the billards room and the lobby.
Romantic and secluded, The Stanley Hotel lies nestled among the foothills in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, 70 miles north of Denver, Colorado. The hotel is a popular spot for weddings and receptions. The hotel was built in 1909 in the neoclassical Georgian style, inspired by the resorts of the eastern seaboard. The hotel and its surrounding lands are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This hotel was the inspiration for Steven King's "The Shining."
Guest Rooms and Rates:
135 rooms and suites with views of the Rocky Mountains, Longs Peak and Lumpy Ridge. Heritage Suite has a full-service kitchen and laundry room. Standard rooms from $119. Suites from $219.
The hotel can arrange murder mystery dinners for groups. Call the hotel for details.
Six miles from Rocky Mountain National Park, about an hour outside Denver.
333 Wonderview, P.O.Box 1767,
Estes Park, Colorado 80517

Hotel Provincial... New Orleans



The French Quarter in New Orleans, LA., is not short of spirits.
New Orleans, La., is a myster ious town. Walking the streets of the French Quarter, the ghosts of the Big Easy seem to be present at every turn. Maybe it has something to do­ with the architecture. Maybe it's the thought of a voodoo doll made in your image. Any way you slice it, New Orleans is a spooky town, and there are many hotels and inns that boast other-worldly visitors. One of these is the Hotel Provincial.
A former soldier supposedly haunts the grounds of the Provincial. Guests have reported everything from doors opening and closing to hearing voices and footsteps when no one else was around. There have been several séances held in the hotel over the years, many of which produced ghostly visions and recorded audio of things like, "Tell Dianne I have to go." A female guest reported being pulled from her bed by a hand and dragged across the room while she kicked and screamed. Another conventioneer claims to have seen the soldier fully materialize in the closet, complete with decorated uniform, before disappearing into thin air. So why does an army ghost haunt the Provincial? A former military hospital sat on the same site in 1722. Twin houses took the place of the hospital in 1831 -- both burned down in 1874. Staying at the Provincial may not guarantee you a ghost sighting, but you'll definitely be spooked.
www.hotelprovincial.com
1024 Chartres St
New Orleans, LA 70116
(504) 581-4995

The Watts Towers... South Central Los Angeles


The Watts Towers, consisting of seventeen major sculptures constructed of structural steel and covered with mortar, are the work of one man - Simon Rodia. Rodia, born Sabato Rodia in Ribottoli, Italy in 1879, was known by a variety of names including Don Simon, Simon Rodilla, Sam and Simon. Although his neighbors in Watts knew him as "Sam Rodilla", the official name of his work is "the Watts Towers of Simon Rodia".
Rodia's older brother immigrated to the United States in 1895 and settled in Pennsylvania where he worked in the coal mines. Rodia followed his brother a few years later. Little is known about his early life in the United States except that he moved to the west coast and found work in rock quarries and logging and railroad camps as a construction worker.
In 1921, Rodia purchased the triangular-shaped lot at 1761-1765 107th Street in Los Angeles and began to construct his masterpiece, which he called "Nuestro Pueblo" (meaning "our town"). For 34 years, Rodia worked single-handedly to build his towers without benefit of machine equipment, scaffolding, bolts, rivets, welds or drawing board designs. Besides his own ingenuity, he used simple tools, pipe fitter pliers and a window-washer's belt and buckle.
Construction worker by day and artist by night, Rodia adorned his towers with a diverse mosaic of broken glass, sea shells, generic pottery and tile, a rare piece of 19th-century, hand painted Canton ware and many pieces of 20th-century American ceramics. Rodia once said, "I had it in mind to do something big and I did it." The tallest of his towers stands 99½ feet and contains the longest slender reinforced concrete column in the world. The monument also features a gazebo with a circular bench, three bird baths, a center column and a spire reaching a height of 38 feet. Rodia's "ship of Marco Polo" has a spire of 28 feet, and the 140-foot long "south wall" is decorated extensively with tiles, sea shells, pottery, glass and hand-drawn designs.
In 1955, when Rodia was approaching 75, he deeded his property to a neighbor and retired to Martinez, California to be near his family. A fire ruined Rodia's little house in 1956. Within a few years the Department of Building and Safety ordered the property demolished. A group of concerned citizens, calling themselves "The Committee for Simon Rodia's Towers in Watts", fought successfully to save the Towers by collecting signatures and money and devising an engineering test in 1959 that proved the Towers' strength and safety.
In 1975, the committee, which had persevered the unique work of art for 16 years, gave the 'Towers and adjoining Arts Center building to the City of Los Angeles for operation and maintenance. In 1978, the Towers were deeded to the State, which undertook extensive restoration of the three main towers. . In 1985, continuing restoration responsibilities were given to the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department and currently both the Towers and the Watts Towers Arts Center are under the operation of the Cultural Affairs Department.
While the Towers fall into no strict art category, international authorities and the general public alike have lauded them as a unique monument to the human spirit and the persistence of a singular vision. The Watts Towers, listed on the National Register of Historic Places are a National Historic Landmark, a State of California Historic Park and Historic-Cultural Monument No. 15, as designated by the City of Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission.
The Cultural Affairs Department, through the Watts Towers Arts Center, provides diverse cultural enrichment programming through tours, lectures, changing exhibits and studio workshops for both teachers and school children. Each year, thousands of people are attracted to the Towers' site for the Simon Rodia Watts Towers Jazz Festival and the Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival.
Location/Directions
The towers are located at 1765 East 107th Street, Los Angeles, CA
Latitude/Longitude: 33.9406 / -118.2419

Monday, February 23, 2009

Giant Ten Commandments...Murphy, N. Carolina


The Church of God of Prophecy knew this full well when they built Fields of the Wood in 1945. Its centerpiece is the World's Largest Ten Commandments, a 300-ft wide tableaux occupying a mountainside. Though it is tucked into the extreme and obscure western corner of North Carolina, the immense tablets are visible from orbit ... and heaven.*
This surprising spectacle borders a TVA-protected lake resort area, twenty miles or so from the mountainous region in Tennessee where the 1996 Atlanta Olympics hosted whitewater races. Heading east from TN, with four miles to go, a hand-painted billboard promises we will "See Gigangic Ten Commandments."
After passing through a white archway emblazoned "Fields of the Wood," we are greeted by an array of religious landmarks spread down a little valley, with ample parking designed for church service gluts. A welcome center booth displays a map, helpfully charting everything on the property, from Golgotha to an Airplane Warning Beacon. The brochure racks are filled with religious tracts and leaflets.
Ten Commandment Mountain Mountain faces Prayer Mountain, where more fit members of the congregation can ascend a long curving stairway to the altar at the top. Along the way, there are 29 important teachings of the Bible explained on headstone-like monuments. Photographers climb here to get any a decent photo of the adjacent Ten Commandments.
Over on Ten Commandment Mountain, you can clamber up the 350 steps between the tablets (or just drive up the little service road around back). The five-foot tall letters set in the grassy hillside spell out all ten Laws of God. Pose your parents next to No. IV, your kids next to No. VI, your spouse and/or mistress next to No. VII.
At the top, a giant open Bible, called "The World's Largest Testament" supports an observation deck. You can gaze down upon the Baptismal Pool, the Star of Bethlehem, and hedges cut to read: "Jesus Died for Our Sins."

The All Nations Cross is also optimized for an angelic vantage point -- a prone display that's 115 feet wide and a 150 feet long. Sprouting on poles from the giant cruciform are flags from every nation where the Church of God is established (or at least has a beachhead).

Back at ground level, you can ponder the Golgotha memorial, or discourage children from rolling the circular stone over the entrance to the replica Tomb of Jesus. Fields of the Wood has a decent gift shop selling T-shirts, trinkets, videos, even World's Largest Ten Commandments backscratchers.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Wigwams Galore... Cave City KY, Holbrook AZ, Rialto CA

There happen to be plenty Wigwam villages around the US. I happened to stay in the one in Holbrook (#6) back in 2003. It was a great treat on the trip. Since then I've found that it was connected to a lot of other wigwam style Motels around the country...
The original is in gone now but #2 is in Cave City, KY. I passed through there back in the 90's and stopped in to see the cave. Come to think of it I remember seeing it on the side of the road.... Opportunity lost.

Wigwam village #2: Cave City, Kentucky
"Sleep in a Wigwam," the sign promises.




And you won't be disappointed. This Wigwam Village Motel is one of a very few surviving "teepee-style" motels from Tourism's Golden Era (today, we thankfully live in the Cubic Zirconium Era). It was the first, built in 1937 by Frank A. Redford, who found his inspiration in authentic Sioux Reservation teepees and ice cream cone-shaped buildings popping up along highways.
This place is full most nights. We highly recommend a stay here -- the rates are reasonable, and it's in the belly of the Mammoth Cave mecca, with easy access to local cave attractions, Floyd Collins memorabilia, and more.
Fourteen wigwam uwnits are arrayed in a semicircle, facing the a larger gift shop and guest registration teepee. Steam Heat, tile baths, cable TV, large playground, picnic tables and grills, no pets allowed.
Ivan F. John is the current owner, an enthusiastic booster of the wigwam experience. He told us the property sits over a potential sinkhole, so a cave (or cave-in) attraction may be somewhere in the Wigwam's future.

Tour of the Basement
The big Wigwam has a full basement, including heating apparatus and refrigerators from the old restaurant. In the early days, the upstairs was a cafe, and the gift shop was in the cellar. Ivan says that the owner before him gutted everything, sold all the furniture and historic memorabilia at auction by Sotheby's, so there's not much here. A couple of half filled boxes of rocks, some pot holders in wooden souvenir bins. There's a safe in the back of the cellar, but it's locked.

601 North Dixie Hwy, Cave City, Kentucky.

Wigwam village #6: Holbrook, Arizona
FROM- BETWEEN BOTH SHORES BOOK

Frank Redford was the first to put into practice the odd (but correct) notion that Americans would want to sleep in concrete replicas of Indian teepees. He opened his Wigwam Village in Cave City, Kentucky, in 1936 [Why he called them wigwams instead of teepees is a mystery].
Chester Lewis, an Arizona motel owner, visited Redford's village not long after it opened, liked the idea, bought the rights to the design, and erected six more Wigwam Villages over the next two decades. The motel in Holbrook was built in 1950, and is among three that survived and still operate today (The others are the one in Cave City, one in Rialto, California -- and a copycat, but correctly named, Tee Pee Motel in Wharton, Texas.)
The Wigwam Motel in Holbrook closed in 1982, and Chester Lewis died in 1986. His widow and children, however, still believed in Chester's dream, restored and reopened the 15 rooms in 1988, and continue to operate it. His son, John, was there when we spent the night.
Since The Wigwam Motel stands adjacent to what was once Route 66, it draws a lot of business from nostalgia buffs. The Lewis family caters to this crowd by recreating a 1950s-era motel, from seeding the parking lot with vintage cars to not showing up in the office until four o'clock in the afternoon.
Holbrook's teepees are most postcard-esque when only the ringer cars are home. The retro atmosphere evaporates when a couple of SUVs and a boxy car (Ken notes it's the very practical Scion xB) pull in for the night. We suspect these vehicles are part of a growing Route 66 Spoiler movement.
The teepees are snug by today's sprawling standards of interior space, but they are clean and well-maintained. Each is furnished with its original hickory log pole furniture. Keeping with the vintage theme, the motel has no ice machine and the teepees have no telephones (cell phones work fine), and your reservation is scrawled by hand into a battered-looking logbook (Ours was lost for a bit because John couldn't make out the handwriting.). There is no shower gel or three-pronged electrical outlets in the teepees, but the Lewis family has wisely not pursued its retro theme too far, and have outfitted each teepee with cable TV and an air conditioner.
Those who enjoy staying in the Luxor Pyramid in Las Vegas, with its sloping exterior room walls, may also enjoy navigating the challenging convergence of angles in the Wigwam Motel's teepee bathrooms. Hint: in certain spots, it helps to be short.
Overall, spending the night in a concrete teepee is more restful than you might imagine. Our units, back by the railroad tracks, had freight trains rumbling past all night, mere feet from our sleeping heads -- but the whoosh of the air conditioner and the solid stucco walls muffled every sound. Frank Redford had a good idea after all.

811 West Hopi Drive, Holbrook, Arizona.

Wigwam village #7: Rialto/San Bernardino, California

Frank Redford built this one for himself in 1947/49 and not as a franchise. There is a central building that is currently used as an office but it is very spacious inside. There is not one arch of wigwams as with the other surviving villages, but a double row of wigwam guest rooms totaling at 19. There is also a pool, and a base for what seems to be another never completed wigwam in the back of the property.
The motel was for a while very run down and rooms were rented by the hour, aggravated by the sign "do it in a teepee" that is still on site in the back.
Renovated in the last few years intensely by the Patel Family whom were awarded the National Historic Route 66 Federation's 2005 Cyrus Avery Award for their efforts in restoration.[4][5] Attention to detail was the main focus during renovation, as the Wigwams lost their zigzag pattern. Restoration restored the reputation and confidence back to the travelers.
The location of the this village gives cause to discussion and confusion. The address of the motel is in Rialto, but the motel is itself completely located inside San Bernardino. It is located right on the border between the two places so to avoid confusion and discussion both are named here.

It is located on Historic Route 66, 2728 West Foothill Blvd., Rialto, California.

Randy's Donuts... Inglewood, CA


The big doughnut at Randy's Donuts, Inglewood, CA, is a few miles north of LAX Airport off the 405. Trees and brush obscure the freeway view more than they must have in 1953, when the Big Donut Drive-in chain opened. Once up the exit ramp and on the cross-street, the 22-foot diameter snack appears poised to roll off an otherwise uninspired drive-thru store.
Randy's is a destination with Hollywood star status. It appears over and over as movie backdrop or in obliquely angled atmospheric LA montages. The big doughnut needs a regular smog and soot scrub -- a black grime is caked across the top and settled around the texture nubbins. The neighborhood itself is a little grimy.
But.... the doughnuts baked at Randy's are fresh and tasty -- honey-glazed, chocolate drenched, and fat bearclaws acquired at the drive-thru window from friendly staff. Randy's sells souvenir hats, and a T-shirt featuring an illustration of the building.
About ten miles southeast of Randy's, west of the 110, stands Donut King II, which sports an identical though lesser known structure. It's been painted bright yellow with rough red lettering that reads "Donut King II."

Head east to La Puente to admire our final California doughnut landmark.

805 West Manchester Avenue
Inglewood CA 90301

The Big Muskie... Hayward, WI


The world's largest fiberglass sculpture is also the world's largest fish -- a fearsome muskie -- and the centerpiece of the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. Over four stories tall and as long as a Boeing 757, it is the biggest thing in a very small town. If the muskie were alive it could swallow a bus -- a bus that would probably be filled with awestruck freshwater fishing fans, over 100,000 of which visit the Hall of Fame every year.
The Hall is the "keeper of the world record fish of North America," a task that had been neglected until the Hall's inception in the 1970s. Its early survival is credited to the Jim Beam Company, whose ten-year program of collectible fish whiskey decanters netted the Hall of Fame a quarter-million dollars in licensing fees. The scale and scope of the place has grown ever since.
A door in the tail of the muskie offers visitors entry to its innards. Inside is the Shrine to Anglers, whose walls are lined with the names of thousands of the Hall's charter members. Here, too, is a memorial exhibit to Herman the Worm, a sickly Canadian night crawler that was nursed back to health by a freshwater fisherman and eventually made a guest appearance on The Tonight Show.
A stairway up the muskie's gullet leads to an observation platform in its toothy, open mouth. From here, visitors have a good view of the Hall's six-acre spread and its "Sea of Fishes," a sculpture garden populated with oversized perch, bluegill, and other freshwater game. In front of the fiberglass bass (which is eating a fiberglass frog) is a plaque: "In Loving Memory of Marjorie Anne Pazik Herrewig 1948-1983: The smallmouth was her favorite fish." The rainbow trout comes with an attached rod and reel for gag photos.
The Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame has over 3,000 entries in its world record book. Its museum displays 5,000 fishing lures, 200 rods and reels, 400 mounted fish, and a room of outboard motors. We noticed a showcase of minnow buckets, an ice spearing exhibit, a tackle box panorama, and a memorial wall "In Memory of Those Gently at Rest in God's Landing Net." In one room, two hairy Bigfoot dummies are tagged "The Primitive Fisherman" and "The Primitive Fisherman's Son," which probably draws a big laugh from the fishing-friendly crowd.
Emmet Brown, the executive director of the Hall of Fame, showed us the outboard motor room. It's packed with 300 motors, several small boats, and smells like a garage. "Most people, when they look at the motors, they say 'Wow,'" Emmet told us. "This is definitely the largest collection of outboard motors available to public viewing. No doubt in my mind about that." We stared, without really comprehending, at a 1947 Western Auto Wizard and a 1935 Montgomery Ward Sea King. Emmet directed our attention to the 1909 Evinrude, which he said was the world's first production outboard motor. "This is probably our gem," Emmet told us.

The Big Duck... Flanders, NY


In 1931, Riverhead duck farmer Martin Maurer built this 20-ft. tall, 30-ft. long eye-catcher using concrete (technically, "ferrocement") applied over a wooden frame. Taillights from a Model T Ford became its eyes, glowing red at night. Maurer sold ducks and eggs from the shop in its belly.
Maurer drew his inspiration from odd structures he had seen in California, especially a building shaped like a >giant coffee pot. Shrewdly, Maurer patented his fowl creation, and the Duck became the darling of locals and travelers. This may explain why, in the world of architecture, any building shaped like its product is referred to as a "duck." Not a "coffeepot."
Maurer is long dead, and the Big Duck has shifted locale a few times. When the land was earmarked for development, giant duck preservationists and the Friends for Long Island's Heritage campaigned to save it. The owners donated the Big Duck to Suffolk County in 1987. In 1988 it moved from Flanders to Hampton Bays along Route 24 at the entrance of Sears-Bellow County Park. The shop still operates -- now as a tourism center for the East end of Long Island, selling duck souvenirs to flocks of city weekend-trippers.
Big Duck at Christmas time.
Each year, (the first Wednesday in December) the Suffolk County Parks Department sponsors the Annual Holiday Lighting of the Big Duck. Local school children sing "Duck" carols, and warm refreshments including hot chocolate, cookies and doughnuts are served. Visitors join in singing the duck carols while awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus, transported by the Flanders Fire Department. Once Santa arrives, the switch is flipped and the Big Duck lights up for all to see.
October 2007: The houses were never built, and so after 19 years the Big Duck has been moved four miles northeast, back to its old location in Flanders. The town reportedly plans to bring back the duck farm and open it and the Duck as a combined tourist attraction.

Address:
Flanders Road, Flanders, NY [Show Map]
Directions:
I-495/Long Island Expressway, Exit 71. Turn right at CR-94 East/Edwards Ave/RT-24 East for 4.3 mi. At traffic circle, take the 3rd exit onto Flanders Rd/RT-24 East 2.4 mi. Duck is on the left.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Crater Lake... Oregon


Like No Place Else on Earth
Crater Lake has inspired people for hundreds of years. No place else on earth combines a deep, pure lake, so blue in color; sheer surrounding cliffs, almost two thousand feet high; two picturesque islands; and a violent volcanic past. It is a place of immeasurable beauty, and an outstanding outdoor laboratory and classroom.
Crater Lake is located in Southern Oregon on the crest of the Cascade Mountain range, 100 miles (160 km) east of the Pacific Ocean. It lies inside a caldera, or volcanic basin, created when the 12,000 foot (3,660 meter) high Mount Mazama collapsed 7,700 years ago following a large eruption.
Generous amounts of winter snow, averaging 533 inches (1,354 cm) per year, supply the lake with water. There are no inlets or outlets to the lake. Crater Lake, at 1,943 feet (592 meters) deep, is the seventh deepest lake in the world and the deepest in the United States. Evaporation and seepage prevent the lake from becoming any deeper.

The Steel Visitor Center-Open all year
Hours
Nov - Mar 10:00 am - 4:00 pm - Daily (except Christmas Day)
Mar - Nov 9:00 am - 5:00 pm - Daily

Rim Village Visitor Center Hours
Jun - Sep 9:30 am - 5:30 pm
May - Jun 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
Month of Sep 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
Phone - 541-594-2211 ext. 41

Crater Lake, Oregon 97604
Visitor Information
(541) 594-3000

Milk Bottle... New Bedford, MA



In 2003, Scott and Crystal Vurpillatte bought the vintage Frates bottle on Achushnet Avenue in New Bedford, renamed the place after their young daughter Tali, and seem determined to make this place again a great little restaurant and ice cream parlor. They want to keep the best of the old and bring in new traditions too. Crystal says the workforce is very different now.
The main attraction, the bright white bottle stands 52-feet tall.
But it's reassuring to find a young couple with strong entrepreneurial spirits ready to shake up a wonderful old structure with new ideas and high butterfat ice cream. Don't drive through New Bedford without stopping by.The New Bedford Bottle is 52' tall and was built in 1930. It still serves 43 flavors of ice cream. There were new owners in 2003 who renamed it "Tali's Place" but, as of 2005, I understand the building is closed and up for sale again.
It served for years as an ice cream parlor. The New Bedford bottle has a sister bottle in Raynham, both erected by Frates Dairy. They were designed by Les Labrose and painted white with a cream color close to the brim, which was the way milk came back then -- cream was on the top.
The New Bedford Bottle is now owned by G&S Pizza and will be serving ice cream soon (but the cream is gone from the top of the bottle -- they painted over it

Shoe House... York, PA


The Shoe House, built in 1948, was by far "Colonel" Mahlon N. Haines' most outlandish advertising gimmick. It is a wood frame structure covered with wire lath and coated with a cement stucco. It measures 48 ft. in length, 17 ft. in width at the widest part and 25 ft. in height. The interior consists of five different levels and contains three bedrooms, two baths, a kitchen and living room.
This giant structural advertisement was originally used as a guest house. In the first year after its completion, elderly couples were invited to stay for a weekend and live like "kings and queens" at Haines' expense.In the spring of 1987 the Shoe House returned to the Haines family when a granddaughter of the "Shoe Wizard" (Ruth Miller) purchased the building.

197 Shoe House Road near the Hellam exit of U.S. 30.
Take PA Rt. 462 east off of I-83 to the town of Hellam.
Turn north (left) off of Rt. 462 on to Shoe House Road.
The Shoe House is located approximately 4 miles east of York, PA on PA Rt.462

Summer Hours - June, July & August Wednesday through Sunday - 11:00 - 5:00
Fall Hours - September & October Saturday & Sunday - 11:00 - 5:00
Winter & Spring - November through Mays Hours are by appointment

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Crazy Horse Memorial... South, Dakota


The Crazy Horse Memorial is a mountain monument under construction in the Black Hills of South Dakota, in the form of Crazy Horse, an Oglala Lakota warrior, riding a horse and pointing into the distance.
The memorial consists of the mountain carving (monument), the Indian Museum of North America, and the Native American Cultural center. The monument is being carved out of Thunderhead Mountain on land considered sacred by some Native Americans, between Custer and Hill City, roughly 8 miles (13 km) away from Mount Rushmore.
The sculpture's final dimensions are planned to be 641 feet (195 m) wide and 563 feet (172 m) high. The head of Crazy Horse will be 87 feet (27 m) high; by comparison, the heads of the four U.S. Presidents at Mount Rushmore are each 60 feet (18 m) high.
The monument has been in progress since 1948 and is still far from completion. If finished, it will be the world's largest sculpture.
The mountain carving was begun in 1948 by sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, who had worked on Mount Rushmore under Gutzon Borglum in 1924. In 1939, Ziolkowski had received a letter from Chief Henry Standing Bear, which stated in part "My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too."
The memorial is a not-for-profit undertaking, and receives no federal or state funding. Ziolkowski was offered $10 million from the federal government on two occasions, but he turned the offers down. Ziolkowski felt the project was more than just a mountain carving, and he feared that his plans for the broader educational as well as cultural goals for the memorial would be left behind with federal involvement.
Ziolkowski died in 1982. The entire complex is owned by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. Ziolkowski's wife Ruth and several children remain closely involved with the work, which has no fixed completion date. The face of Crazy Horse was completed and dedicated in 1998.

Crazy Horse resisted being photographed, and was deliberately buried where his grave would not be found. Ziolkowski, however, envisioned the monument as a metaphoric tribute to the spirit of Crazy Horse and Native Americans. "My lands are where my dead lie buried," supposedly said by Crazy Horse, is the intended interpretation of the monument's expansive gesture.

12151 Avenue of the Chiefs
Crazy Horse, SD 57730-8900
P: 605.673.4681

Badlands... Interior, South Dakota



"I was totally unprepared for that revelation called the Dakota Bad Lands."
--- Frank Lloyd Wright

I've been to Badlands once and when I look back over my photos I see a lot of missed oppertunities. The quote is fitting...
I need to go back

Containing the world’s richest Oligocene epoch fossil beds, dating 37-28 million years old, the evolutionary stories of mammals such as the horse and rhinoceros arise from the 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires. Bison, bighorn sheep, endangered black-footed ferrets, and swift fox roam one of the largest, protected mixed-grass prairies in the United States.
Authorized as Badlands National Monument on March 4, 1929, President Franklin Roosevelt issued a proclamation on January 25, 1939 that established Badlands National Monument. In the late 60's, Congress passed legislation adding more than 130,000 acres of Oglala Sioux tribal land, used since World War II as a U.S. Air Force bombing and gunnery range, to the Badlands to be managed by the National Pakr Service. An agreement between the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the National Park Service governing the management of these lands was signed in 1976. The new Stronghold and Palmer Creek units added lands having significant scenic, scientific and cultural resources. Congress again focused it's attention on the Badlands in 1978 on 10 November, it was redesignated as Badlands National Park.

Badlands National Park is located in Southwestern corner of South Dakota just north of the town of Interior. Badlands is located in Pennington and Jackson Counties.

25216 Ben Reifel Road
P.O. Box 6
Interior, South Dakota 57750

Monday, January 19, 2009

HIgh School... Monument Valley, Arizona


This school is just west of Monument Valley.
Highway 163
Kayenta, AZ 86033

Yosemite National Park... California

The majestic sights of Yosemite delight and inspire visitors of all generations. Take a quick tour of some of our most amazing natural features, and the plants and animals that make the park their home. Our most-popular Yosemite attractions include:


YOSEMITE WATERFALLS
Waterfalls are a Yosemite hallmark, drawing visitors from around the globe year after year. Because many of Yosemite’s waterfalls are fed by snowmelt, the amount of water rushing over each waterfall can vary widely throughout the year. In addition to those below, numerous other falls can be seen during the spring run-off or after a heavy rainstorm.

Yosemite Falls (Upper, 1,430 ft.; Middle, 675 ft.; Lower, 320 ft.) is one of the tallest in North America and fifth highest in the world with a total drop of 2,425 feet.
Bridalveil Fall (620 ft.) called "Pohono" or "spirit of the puffing wind" by the Ahwahneechee Indians. The wind often blows the falls sideways giving it the appearance of a "bride's veil".
Ribbon Fall (1,612 ft.), which flows off a cliff on the west side of El Capitan, is the tallest single fall in North America.
Illilouette Fall (370 ft.) is visible from below on the John Muir Trail. From Washburn Point, just before you get to Glacier Point, there's a more spectacular view of its brink and stony gorge.
Vernal Fall (317 ft.) and Nevada Fall (594 ft.) are visible from the Mist Trail. and rewards hikers with a refreshing, rainbow-filled shower on hot spring days.
Horsetail Fall (1000 ft) is a seasonal waterfall flowing off the eastern cliffs of El Capitan. This Yosemite waterfall’s location affords a spectacular effect intermittently during the last two weeks of February. During this time, it is backlit by the sun causing it to glow orange as though it were on fire.
Waterfalls Outside Yosemite Valley-
Chilnualna Falls (300 ft), a long series of cascades culminating in a large drop, all located about 4.1 trail miles from Wawona, in Southern Yosemite.
Waterwheel Falls (700 ft) gets its name from its ridged 50-55 degree incline causing the water to strike the ridges and loop back – creating the “Waterwheels” Best seen during spring run-off. Located downriver from Tuolumne Meadows.
Tueeulala Fall (1000 ft) and Wapama Falls (1700 ft), both located in Hetch Hetchy, accessible via Evergreen Road along Highway 120, a few miles from the main 120 entrance. While Tueeulala Fall does dry up by mid-summer, Wapama maintains a large flow all year long. Due to security for Hetch Hetchy, the road to the area closes at night. Check with the National Park Service for more info on the hours of operation for the road.

YOSEMITE MOUNTAINS & ROCK FORMATIONS
Yosemite Valley, approximately 3,000 feet deep and less than a mile wide, is known for its incredible rock formations, created from plutonic rock that cooled far below the earth’s surface. Some of the most famous formations are:

Half Dome (8,842 ft.) among the most recognized natural features in Yosemite, its western face is a sheer cliff of Plutonic granite - the youngest in Yosemite.
Sentinel Rock (7,038 ft.) on the south side of Yosemite Valley, named for its likeness to a watchtower.
El Capitan (7,569 ft.) towering 3,593 ft. from the valley floor, rock climbers from around the world come to challenge their abilities on its granite face giving visitors an excellent opportunity to view this unique sport.
Mt. Lyell (13,114 ft.) the tallest peak in the park, its steep slopes are home to the largest active glacier in Yosemite, the Lyell Glacier, which is about 1/4-mile-square.
Mt. Dana (13,053 ft.) and Mt. Gibbs (12,764 ft.) flanking Tioga Pass in Tuolumne Meadows.
Matterhorn Peak (12,264 ft.) is one of a series of peaks that make up the spectacular Sawtooth Ridge on the northeastern border of the park.
Glacier Point (7,214 ft) providing an eagle's view of the valley floor 3,214 feet below from this perch on the rim of Yosemite Valley.

YOSEMITE ANIMALS
In addition to its breathtaking scenery, Yosemite is home to a great and diverse wildlife population. Some formerly endangered or eradicated species like the peregrine falcon, golden eagle and bighorn sheep are once again flourishing under the watchful eye of the National Park Service. With a keen eye, you may be lucky enough to spot some of these beautiful creatures.

Black Bears – This incredibly intelligent animal is called “black bear” but can also be brown, blonde, cinnamon, or even white. Please visit our “Bear Awareness” page [[Hyperlink “Bear Awareness”]] for more information on protecting our Bears.
Mule Deer – One of the easiest animals to find in Yosemite, these deer are also called “Black-Tailed Deer”. They can be found in places throughout the park, but generally near open meadows.
Coyotes – Nothing beats hearing the yapping of a coyote among the walls of Yosemite Valley. Coyotes are commonly mistaken for wolves in Yosemite, but ecologically speaking wolves have never existed here.
California Ground Squirrel – The most prolific summertime squirrel, their scruffy grey/white mottled fur distinguishes them from their cousins. They hibernate in the winter.
Western Grey Squirrel – The most commonly spotted squirrel in the winter. Grey Squirrels easily have the bushiest tails in Yosemite.
Mountain Lions – These magnificent creatures are rarely seen by humans because they are very secretive. They offer an important role in controlling deer, raccoon, and squirrel populations.
Marmots – With a talent for sunbathing, these large golden brown members of the rodent family are spotted usually from Olmstead Point to Tuolumne Meadows and up to the top of the highest mountain peaks in Yosemite.

Visiting in the Summer-
(June through September)
See lots of the park...and other visitors

Areas to visit: All areas of the park are usually accessible by car by late May or early June, although services along the Tioga Road often open a bit later in June

Climate: Warm to hot, with occasional rain (usually as afternoon thundershowers, especially at the higher elevations).
Yosemite Valley & Wawona (4,000 ft / 1,200 m): 87°F (31°C) / 51°F (10°C)

Rivers & Waterfalls: Most of the water flowing in Yosemite comes from snowmelt in the high country, so runoff decreases during the dry summer. Peak runoff typically occurs in May or June, with some waterfalls (including Yosemite Falls) often only a trickle or completely dry by August. Other waterfalls, including Vernal, Nevada, and Bridalveil, run all year, however their flow can be very low by late summer.

San Francisco/Bay area
Distance: 195 mi / 314 km
Time:4-5 hours
Take I-580 east to I-205 east to Highway 120 east (Manteca) or Highway 140 east (Merced) into Yosemite National Park.

La Brea Tar Pits... Los Angeles, California


The La Brea Tar Pits and Hancock Park are situated within urban Los Angeles, California, near the Miracle Mile district. La Brea Tar Pits are composed of a substance called Asphalt, which came out of the earth as oil. In Hancock Park, asphalt seeps up from underground. The asphalt is derived from petroleum deposits that originate from underground locations throughout the Los Angeles Basin. The asphalt reaches the surface at several locations in the park, forming pools. Methane gas also seeps up, causing bubbles that make the asphalt appear to boil. Asphalt and methane also appear under surrounding buildings, requiring special operations to remove, lest it weaken the buildings' foundations. It was recently discovered that the bubbles are caused by hardy forms of bacteria embedded in the natural asphalt that are eating away at the petroleum and releasing methane; of the bacteria sampled so far, about 200 to 300 are previously unknown species. Gas bubble slowly emerging from a smaller tar pit at La Brea Tar Pits.
This seepage has been happening for tens of thousands of years. From time to time, the asphalt would form a pool deep enough to trap animals, and the surface would be covered with layers of water, dust, and leaves. Animals would wander in, become trapped and eventually die. Predators would also enter to eat the trapped animals, and themselves become stuck.
As the bones of the dead animals sink into the asphalt, it fossilizes them, turning them a dark-brown or black color. Lighter fractions of petroleum evaporate from the asphalt, leaving a more solid substance, which holds the bones. Apart from the dramatic fossils of large mammals, the asphalt also preserves very small "microfossils," wood and plant remnants, and even pollen grains. Radiometric dating of preserved wood and bones has given an age of 38,000 years for the oldest known material from the La Brea seeps, and they are still ensnaring organisms today.

5801 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Horseshoe Bend... Arizona


Horseshoe Bend is the name for a horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River located near the town of Page, Arizona, in the United States. It is located slightly downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, about four miles or 6 km south of Page. Accessible via a 3⁄4-mile (1.2 km) hike from U.S. Route 89, it can be viewed from the steep cliff above, forming a spectacular vista.
This is a side trip that doesn't cost anything but a little effort while you're at Lake Powell in Northern Arizona. It's a 3/4 mile hike from the parking area, which is just off highway 89 south of Page.
Horse Shoe Bend is another of Mother Nature's little tricks in a whole world of sandstone and slick rock tricks that result in some of the weirdest, and neatest, formations in the west. This is Glen Canyon and the Colorado River downstream from Glen canyon Dam, which holds back Lake Powell. It is within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. And it's worth taking a camera.
Drive about 4 miles south of Page on 89 to a short blacktop road that goes off to the west. It's 2 tenths of a mile south of mile marker 545. If you're a GPS nut, the turn-off is: N 36-52-38.2, W 111-30-03.9. The view point is: N 36-52-34.1, W 111-30-38.25. Once you get to the coordinates for the viewpoint, we strongly advise you not to go any farther west...there's a 500 foot drop. The trail only goes to the top of the canyon, there is no way down to the river that we know of...unless you have a parachute and a death wish.
The trail has some steep ups and downs and some deep sand. Even those in the worst of shape, though, can make it if you take your time. For Pete's sake, watch the little kids at the edge.
Take the widest lens you have to shoot pictures. The above pic was taken with a fisheye lens. The best time of day, when the sun is on the complete curve of the river, is between about noon and 2 PM.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Giant Raven... Ravenden, Arkansas


Ravenden is a small town -- only about 500 residents -- spread along the Spring River. They are a proud and stalwart people -- proud of the town's mascot, the raven, and stalwart when it comes to maintaining their 12-ft. tall Raven statue.
Ravens, though they don't speak in quite the way imagined by Edgar Allan Poe, are the smartest members of the crow family. The town was established in 1883, and we've been told the name, originally Ravenden Junction, was inspired by the 19th century profusion of these large black birds along the Spring River. They weren't in evidence the day we dropped by.
The first statue honoring the raven was conceived by resident Bob Clemens, built by the town's volunteer fire department in 1991, and paid for with local donations. It was constructed of fiberglass, a widely used material for civic symbols (when the permanence of concrete or steel isn't in the budget). But as several municipalities have found, fiberglass statues harbor a fatal weakness. They burn.
Vandals torched Ravenden's statue in 1996. Clemens replaced it with a reconstituted fiberglass Raven. Two weeks later, Raven #2 was incinerated by vandals.
Most towns would give up at this point, and all you'd see on your next vacation would be a pair of charred claw stumps.
Ravenden screamed "Nevermore!" and built another -- of a more indestructible mix of cement stucco, coated with flame-retardant paint. The latest version of the Raven was installed in 1996. It's still there today, flanked by Arkansas and American flags.
The base of the statue offers this wisdom:

"The RAVEN was the first bird sent from the ark in search of land," and "The RAVEN has the reputation for DIVINE or MAGICAL powers."

Hwy. 63, Ravenden, AR

Graceland Too... Holly Springs, Mississippi


Graceland Too is the real deal. We had misgivings about visiting, given that Elvis has become so safe and antiseptic -- part of the I Love Lucy, James Dean, Rt. 66, Marilyn Monroe pabulum cool -- assembly line reproduction salt and pepper shakers can be found in the kitchenettes of assisted living apartments across the country.
Any image commemorated on US postage stamps has no danger left: icons as provocative as native birds or Rio Grande blankets.
But try telling that to Paul McLeod. He is the curator and creator of Graceland Too. It's a manic floor-to-ceiling (including the ceiling) tribute to The King, all hand done, with none of the burrs sanded off. Paul drinks lots of Coca-Cola and only sleeps four hours a night. The museum is open 24 hours a day -- he says to just knock louder at night.
It is noon when we knock. McLeod greets us and ushers us into the foyer. He's a big, pleasant person with a slight glisten of sweat. The windows are covered, and the air-conditioning and fan are no match for Mississippi July.
He reminds us of other true protectors like John Whitman of The Titanic Museum (now closed) and Max Nordeen of the Wheels Museum (also now closed). Like Whitman, McLeod remembers exactly when the bomb in his head went off.
"October 17th, 1954. On my birthday. I saw Elvis playing here with Lash LaRue. He got two dollars a day, and another fifty cents at night. A woman in the audience died at that show." After that, he saw Elvis perform another 119 times.
The obsession has lasted 50 years and two generations: Paul's son, Elvis Aaron Presley McLeod, helps manage the collection. It long ago cost Paul his job at Cadillac Motor Division and "four paid-for homes, 35 beautiful mint condition cars. My wife said to choose, I said 'So long.' "

200 East Gholson Avenue, Holly Springs, MS
Near town center, a few blocks east of Hwy 7, one block south of E. Vandom Ave. Gholson Ave. and Randolph St.
Always, just knock.

The FloraBama... The Last Roadhouse


The Flora-Bama was originally constructed in 1964, two years after the road connecting Orange Beach, AL with Perdido Key, FL was completed.[1] In the early days of the Flora-Bama, the lounge was practically the only thing in the area. As traffic began to increase along the new highway, business grew and the lounge grew to match it with new construction added piecemeal to accommodate the larger crowds. In 1978, the Flora-Bama was sold to Joe Gilchrist and Pat McClellan, who remain the co-owners of the bar today.
Widely known as a place where "you can have a millionaire sitting next to a biker," this unique make-up of bar patrons is one of the contributing factors to its large appeal and attraction. Locals mingle with tourists rather easily and on large holiday weekends such as Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day, cars line the highway for miles in both directions as the bar draws such a large crowd. The Flora-Bama first gained national attention when former Oakland Raiders quarterback and NFL MVP Kenny Stabler referred to the Flora-Bama as "the best watering hole in the country."
The establishment is referred to by locals as simply "the Bama" or "Pumptown" and before its partial destruction by Hurricane Ivan, it boasted in the range of 20 bars on the grounds. In addition, up to 4 live bands could be playing simultaneously providing a wide array of music for visitors to enjoy. The bar is primarily outdoors and formerly offered a huge deck where one can eat and drink while having a beautiful view of the Gulf of Mexico before its destruction by Hurricane Ivan.

17401 Perdido Key Dr, Pensacola, FL 32507

Friday, January 16, 2009

Presidents Parks aplenty...Leads SD, Williamsburg VA, Pearland TX


Lead, South Dakota
"Move over Mt. Rushmore! You've got company!" So proclaims the brochure for Presidents Park -- a wooded retreat in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where citizens can stroll peacefully among the giant heads of the nation's Chief Executives.
It doesn't take genius to discern that tourist traffic already in the region to see four heads carved into a mountain (or five, lest we forget the almost completed Chief Crazy Horse) might be lured to also visit big busts of ALL the Presidents.
Presidents Park is open year round; the asphalt in the parking lot was one month old when we stopped by in 2003. That year, David Adickes, the sculptor who rendered the gargantuan Sam Houston and Houston airport's George HW Bush statue ("Winds of Change"), opened Presidents Park (and a duplicate near Williamsburg, Virginia in 2004).
The 43 heads are arranged chronologically along a path winding up into a rocky knoll of tall pines. George Washington, generally accepted in history as the first President of the USA, looks over the snack bar.
The busts are16-20 feet tall, with the seven greatest Presidents' heads rendered at about 12 times life-size. Each head is accompanied by an informational display.
Andrew Jackson.
The climb up the head path is gradual, but a little strenuous for seniors. Knowing their likely audience, the park provides motorized golf carts, and warming enclosures and rest areas along the way.
Wild turkeys roam the slope. The tree shade makes for challenging photos, but the dappling adds character. You can capture a Nixon and Ford lurking side by side in the shadows, or G. W. Bush gazing toward a slightly smirking Clinton. Beyond those two there's room for another century worth of larger-than-life likenesses...
The Park has interspersed a couple of joke items along the way. A path twist at McKinley features a sign: "Turn of the Century." Visitors can sit on "Monica Rock." There is a Watergate picnic area behind Nixon’s head. The restrooms are labeled "Presidents" and "First Ladies."
Harry S. Truman.
Adickes created the heads at his studio in Houston, Texas. He blocks out the basic shape with large strips of Styrofoam, then plasters over for the fine detail before the mold is cast. Apparently an infinite number of giant president heads can be manufactured from the molds.
The heads are hollow (like we suspected of our politicians), but still weigh 16-24 tons.
When we visited, the gift shop was still working out kinks. Souvenir plastic daggers may not be the right idea, but the wholesalers brought 'em in anyway.
Presidents Park isn't bad, but something is missing. Should the heads perpetually slide on rails, and give historic speeches? Too gimmicky? Maybe they're just too new. When Polk gets moldy streaks running from his eyes, and birds start nesting, it might add to the entertainment value.
Nixon and Ford.
Adickes is expanding the giant head landscape as a commercial endeavor. In addition to his second park in Virginia, other big statues are on the drawing board. At the Presidents Park web site, he's promoting the Icon Project, which "Will take your dream and turn it into a permanent creation of art that will be a wonderful tribute to your mentor, idol or relative."

5 mi. SW of Deadwood/Lead one mile south of Deer Mountain Road on US85
605-584-9925
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Only in Virginia’s historic triangle and Presidents Park can you receive the entire span of our nation’s history from the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown in 1607 to the present. Presidents Park offers a continuation of the all-encompassing lesson in American History, starting with Washington’s inauguration in 1789, through, to the new millennium and the current war on terrorism. Learn about all 43 unique presidencies as you enjoy a patriotic, educational and inspiring experience at Presidents Park in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Presidents Park is the creation of David Adickes, an internationally renowned sculptor and painter. The Park features 16-18 foot tall busts of all 43 Presidents of the United States, placed in a garden setting. Presidents Park has established a Board of Education which reviews educational material to ensure that the Virginia Standards of Learning are met. All content is also reviewed by the President Park’s National Council of Scholars. The museum building on site houses meeting rooms, a gift shop, café, banquet room, and other amenities.

211 Water Country Parkway, Williamsburg, VA 23285 • Toll-Free 800-588-4327
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The plan is for 43 president's statues fronting the new commercial development, Waterlight, on Hwy 288 in Pearland, south of Houston, Texas. Created by David Adickes, sculptor of the 76' Sam Houston statue in Huntsville, Texas.The current 5 are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, George W. Bush, and John Kennedy. Presidential Park -
Pearland, Texas. Nov. 2008.